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Barrie legion to mark D-Day's 80th anniversary with downtown parade

Local historian and author Ted Barris will also speak around pivotal Second World War battle at St. Vincent Street legion on June 5

“Come take a look at this one last thing. Sorry, no, two things,” says Steve Glover as he guides a visitor from one wall at Barrie's Royal Canadian Legion to another.

Proudly displayed is a clock presented to legion officials in 1949 by Barrie moms of young soldiers killed in the Second World War. Built in below it is a long-faded plaque etched with their names. Look very closely and you can still make it out.

But, no need.

Glover, the volunteer historian for Royal Canadian Legion Branch 147, managed, with lots of help, to track down information on each man. And then came the photos, all of which, after restoration, are now compiled in a neat display next to the wall clock.

Glover’s enthusiasm is infectious. The stories adorning those walls and displays are rich with personal perspectives.

And if that’s not enough, the legion’s library is stocked with books about Canadian military history.

In one, which was one of many by Ted Barris, Glover came across the name of Norville Small. Hailing from Allandale, he was credited with sinking the first German submarine off the coast of Nova Scotia on July 31, 1942.

“So I’m reading this in the book, Battle of the Atlantic … he was decorated twice, got the Air Force Cross and then he got the Distinguished Flying Cross,” says Glover, clearly pumped up about this discovery. “He died only six months later. He’s buried in Gander, Newfoundland, because that’s where the plane crash happened.

“His name’s not on the cenotaph because they had no idea.”

Well, now we know and, on another yet wall at the local legion, we can read all about it. Or in Barris's book.

Glover and those at the legion are keen to share the stories of the Second World War through a Barrie lens with a larger audience in partnership with veterans, the Grey and Simcoe Foresters, Canadian Forces Base Borden and other stakeholders.

They also want to mark the 80th anniversary of the allied invasion of Normandy involving 14,000 Canadians at Juno Beach that we know as D-Day, considered the turning point in the war.

The event will be marked with a parade downtown Barrie at 10:15 a.m. on Thursday, June 6 and a ceremony at the Barrie cenotaph at Memorial Square on Dunlop Street East. He expects to see the St. Vincent Street legion to swell afterwards.

All that will be preceded by a presentation by Barris, the author of all those books about Canadian military history. On June 5, he will talk about the Second World War battle at 7 p.m.

The legion, Glover suggests, is perhaps one of the last vestiges available to mark D-Day.

“If you’re not doing anything,” Glover suggests to readers, “why don’t you think about joining us?”